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hear him. “Blessed be God,” he says, in his reply, “that the rich and great begin to have a hearing ear: I think it is a good sign that our Lord interids to give, to some at least, an obedient heart. How wonderfully does our Redeemer deal with souls! If they will hear the gospel oniy under a ceiled roof, ministers shall be sent to them there; if only in a church, or a field, they shall have it there. A word in the lesson, when I was last with your ladyship, struck me,-Paul preached privately to those that were of reputation. This must be the way, I presume, of dealing with the nobility, who yet know not the Lord." This is characteristic ; and his answer to a second note, respecting the time, is still more so. " Ever since the reading your ladyship’s condescending letter, my soul has been overpowered with His presence, who is all in all. When your ladyship styled me your friend, I was amazed at your condescension ; but when I thought that Jesus was my friend, it quite overcame me and made me to lie prostrate before Him, crying, Why me? why me? I just now rose from the ground, after praying the Lord of all lords to water your soul, honored madam, every moment. As there seems to be a door opening for the nobility to hear the gospel, I will defer my journey, and, God willing, preach at your ladyship's. Oh that God may be with me, and make me humble! I am ashamed to think your ladyship will admit me under your roof; much more am I amazed that the Lord Jesus will make use of such a creature as I am ; quite astonished at your ladyship’s condescension, and the unmerited superabounding grace and goodness of Him who has loved me, and given Himself for me."
Lord Chesterfield and Bolingbroke" were among his auditors at Chelsea : the countess had done well in inviting those persons who stood most in need of repentance. The former complimented the preacher with his usual courtliness; the latter is said to have been much moved at the discourse : he invited Whitefield to visit him, and seems then to have been not disinclined to pass from infidelity to christianity.
* This celebrated infidel and tory, was one day reading Calvin's Institutes. A clergyman (the Rev. Mr. Church, who died curate of Battersea) of his lordship's acquaintance coming in on a visit, Lord B. said to him, “ You have caught me reading John Calvin; he was indeed a man of great parts, profound sense, and vast learning; he handles the doctrines of grace in a very masterly manner.” “Doctrines of grace !" replied the clergyman," the doctrines of grace have set all mankind together by the ears.' “ I am surprised to hear you say so ;" answered Lord B., “you who profess to believe and to preach christianity. Those doctrines are certainly the doctrines of the Bible, and if I believe the Bible I must believe them. And, let me seriously tell you, that the greatest miracle in the world is the subsistence of christianity, and its continued preservation, as a religion, when the preaching of it is committed to the care of such unchristian wretches as you."
Lady Huntingdon, pleased, perhaps, by the applause which was bestowed upon the performance, appointed Whitefield one of her chaplains. He, at this time, writing to Mr. Wesley, says, “What have you thought about a union? I am afraid an external one is impracticable. I find, by your sermons, that we differ in principles more than I thought, and I believe we are upon two different plans. My attachment to America will not permit me to abide very long in England, consequently I should but weave a Penelope's web if I formed societies; and, if I should form them, I have not proper assistants to take care of them; I intend, therefore, to go about preaching the gospel to every creature.”
In September, 1748, he visited Scotland the third time, and was received with a hearty welcome. Multitudes crowded to hear him, both at Edinburgh and Glasgow. "I have reason,"
he, “to believe some have been awakened, and many quickened and comforted. My old friends are more solidly so than ever; and a foundation, I trust, has been laid for doing much good, if ever the Lord should call me thither again. Two Synods and one Presbytery, brought me upon the carpet; but all has worked for good.”
These were the Synods of Glasgow and Perth, and the Presbytery of Edinburgh. What happened in the Synod of Glasgow, may be seen in a pamphlet, entitled, “a fair and impartial Account of the Debate in the Synod of Glasgow and Air, October 6th, 1748, against employing Mr. Whitefield," published at Edinburgh the same year, and supposed to be written by the Rev. Dr. Erskine, who was then minister at Kirkintillock. The short history of the matter is this: A motion was made, tending to prohibit or discourage ministers from employing Whitefield. The speeches made in support of the motion were upon the following topics: His being a priest of the Church of England—That he had not subscribed the Formula–His imprudences—Chimerical scheme of the Orphan-house-Want of evidence that the money he collects is rightly applied — Asserting that assurance is essential to faith -Encouraging a dependence on impulses and immediate revelations-Declaring, on slender evidence, some people converted, and others carnal and unregenerated—Often, indeed, pretending to repent of his blunders, and retract; but as often relapsing into them-And lastly, his being under a sentence of suspension by Commissary Garden, from which he had appealed to the High Court of Chancery, and made oath to prosecute that appeal in a twelve month ; and yet it was never prosecuted.
On the other hand, the ministers who were against the motion, spoke in this manner : "I blush to think (said one) that,
any of our brethren should befriend a proposal so contrary to that moderation and catholic spirit which now is, and I hope ever will be, the glory of our church. I am sensible, that many things in the Church of England need reformation ; but I honor her, notwithstanding, as our sister church. If Bishop Butler, Bishop Sherlock, or Bishop Secker, were in Scotland, I should welcome them to my pulpit. In this I should imitate Mr. Samuel Rutherford, as firm a Presbyterian as any of us, who yet employed Bishop Usher. There is no law of Christ, no act of Assembly, prohibiting me to give my pulpit to an Episcopal, Independent, or Anabaptist minister, if of sound principles in the fundamentals of religion, and of a sober life. Our church expressly enjoins, Act. XII, April, 1711, that great tenderness is to be used to foreign Protestants. The requiring strangers to subscribe our Formula, before they preach with us, would lay as effectual a bar against employing those of Congregational principles, or Presbyterian non-subscribers, as those of the Church of England."
"As to Mr. Whitefield (said another) there are few ministers whose characters have been so well attested, by the most competent judges, both at home and abroad. One thing I cannot but observe: those who have spoken most warmly against Mr. Whitefield in this debate, acknowledge they have made little or no inquiry into his character : whereas those on the other side have made a careful inquiry; and that inquiry has turned out entirely to their satisfaction. With regard to his imprudences, there is a great difference betwixt blunders owing to a bad heart, and those that are owing only to a misinformed judgment; especially, when the mistakes that occasioned them have misled several great and good men. Whether Mr. Whitefield's scheme of the Orphan-house be prudent or not, it is demonstrable it was honestly meant. The magistrates of Savannah published, three years ago, in the Philadelphia Gazette, an affidavit that they had carefully examined Mr. Whitefield's receipts and disbursements, and found that what he had collected in behalf of the orphans had been honestly applied; and that, besides, he had given considerably to them of his own property. As to his maintaining that assurance is essential to faith, encouraging an unwarrantable regard to impressions, and being too hasty in pronouncing men carnal or converted, his sentiments in these particulars, have been altered for upwards of two years. And now he scarce preaches a sermon, without guarding his hearers against relying on impressions, telling them that faith, and a persuasion we are justified, are very different things, and that a holy life is the best evidence of a gracious state. The retractions are owing to a real
change of sentiment. Letters from correspondents in New England show, that this change is at least of two years date, and that ever since it happened he has preached and acted with remarkable caution. Lastly, with respect to the prosecution of his appeal, Mr. Whitefield exerted himself to the utmost to get his appeal' heard, but could not prevail on the Lords Commissioners so much as once to meet on the affair ; they, no doubt, thinking of Mr. Garden's arbitrary proceedings with the contempt they deserved. But, say some, Mr. Whitefield, being under a suspension not yet reversed, is now no minister.' But for what was he suspended? Why, for no other crime, than omitting to use the form of prayer prescribed in the communion book, when officiating in a Presbyterian congregation. And shall a meeting of Presbyterian ministers pay any regard to a sentence which had such a foundation ?"
The issue of the debate was, a rejecting of the motion by a vote of 37 to 13; and a resolution which was so expressed as to be a decent burial of it; laying no new restriction on ministers from inviting strangers, but leaving things precisely as they were before. And they who chose to give Whitefield their pulpits never after met with any molestation. Upon the whole, the attacks made on Whitefield's character proved the occasion of informing the Synod of the falsehood of many aspersions thrown out against him, of the great increase of his prudence and caution, and the remarkable change in his sentiments and behavior, so far as either were offensive. And thus what was intended for his reproach turned out to his honor.
While he was in Scotland, he endeavored to do all the service he could to the New Jersey College, and in conjunction with some ministers who wished well to the institution, advised the sending over a minister from America, to make application in person : which was afterwards done in the year 1754, when application was made by Mr. Tennent and Mr. Davies to the assembly, who appointed a general collection.
Mr. Whitefield's thoughts were now engaged on a plan for making his Orphan-house, which was at first intended only for the reception of poor fatherless children, a seminary of literature and academical learning. He thought that such an institution was much wanted in America, and that, if properly conducted, it would render very essential service to the colony. In consequence of which, on his return to England, he signified this to be his intention, by letter to the Trustees, if they would be pleased to alter the government of the colony, and permit a limited use of negroes; for otherwise, it was his opinion, that Georgia would never become a flourishing pro
vince. In the mean time, he traveled, preached every where as usual, meeting with great success during the winter.
In February, 1749, he made an excursion to Exeter* and Plymouth, where he was agreeably surprised to find a great alteration in the people, since his last visit to those parts, about five years before. He was received by his late converts as an angel of God; and by none more cordially than the Rev. Andrew Kinsman ;t at whose house he resided during the present
* When Whitefield was preaching at Exeter, a man was present who had loaded his pockets with stones, in order to fling them at that precious ambassador of Christ. He heard his prayer, however, with patience : but no sooner had he named his text, than the man pulled a stone out of his pocket, and held it in his hand, waiting for a fair opportunity to throw it. But God sent a word to his heart, and the stone dropped from his hand. After sermon he went to Mr. Whitefield and told him, " Sir, I came to hear you this day, with a view to break your head; but the Spirit of God, through your ministry, has given me a broken heart.' The man proved to be a sound convert and lived an ornament to the gospel. Such power belongeth unto God!
+ The Rev. Andrew Kinsman was born at Tavistock, in the county of Devon, November 17, 1724. His childhood and youth were marked by a disposition and manners mild and engaging, together with a behavior to his parents peculiarly dutiful. He was, however, unacquainted with the religion of the gospel, until he had attained his seventeenth year, when providentially meeting with a volume of Mr. Whitefield's sermons, one of those on the new birth, was greatly blessed as a means of informing his judgment, and alarming his conscience. Having but a few spiritual friends to converse with, he continued for some time in a state of suspense, relative to his interest in divine things, and was uncertain whether he was actually renewed in the spirit of his mind. But God, who heareth the sorrowful sighing prisoner, at length gave him the "oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”
His gloomy and tormenting fears being happily dissipated, and his heart exulting in the grace of God his Savior, he was soon impressed with an ardent concern, to interest the attention of his relations in these important objects.
Their great indifference, even to the form of godliness, gave frequent occasion to many strong cries and tears to God in secret, ihat Christ might be formed in their hearts, the hope of glory. But being unable to suppress his feelings any longer, he one evening exclaimed, with an effectual emotion, as they were retiring to their chambers, “What! shall we go to bed without prayer ? How do we know but some of us may awake in hell before morning?" By this unexpected address, the family were siezed with a solemn awe; and while they looked on each other with conscious shame, for the neglect of so obvious a duty, he fell upon his knees, and prayed with a readiness and fervor, which greatly excited their astonishment.
Nor was his anxiety confined to their spiritual welfare; for his heart's desire was, that his neighbors might also participate in the unsearchable riches of Christ. He therefore shortly began to read Whitefield's sermons, to as many as would attend; and supposed, with Melancthon, that what had proved so singular a blessing to himself, would not fail to produce similar effects on them, as soon as they were heard. Continuing to read the works of eminent divines for some time, the small company who attended these exercises, perceiving him to be a youth of promising abilities, encouraged him to cultivate them, by the study and delivery of his own discourses. After repeated solicitations he was prevailed upon; and his first essay of this nature, was from Ezek. xxxvii. 3. "Son of man, can these bones live ? and I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.” He used to speak of this as a season peculiarly solemn and affecting. The Lord encouraged these his early efforts, giving him many seals to his ministry, among whom were his father, mother, and three sisters.